The Head of the European Office of the World Health Organization said that the exponential growth of coronaviruses across the continent justified restrictive measures across the continent, which they called "absolutely needed" to stop the pandemic.
Dr. Hans Kluge warned Thursday, in a press briefing, that in "unprecedented times" even more drastic steps may be required.
He called for "uncompromising" countries and citizens in their efforts to control the virus and said that most spillovers of COVID-19 occur in homes, indoors, and communities that do not comply with the safeguards.
Kluge said, "These measures are meant to keep us all ahead of our curve and flatten our course." "When they are still relatively easy to follow, it is therefore up to us to accept them rather than follow the path of severity."
He says the coronavirus is now the fifth leading cause of death in Europe and noted that the region has recently exceeded the 8,000 deaths per day threshold. Although Kluge said higher figures can be attributable in part to higher test rates, notably for younger people, he said that in just 10 days Europe recorded its last new million cases.
Kluge referred to epidemiology models that suggested that Europe could avoid about 281,000 deaths by February by the use of 95 percent of people wear masks and other social separation measures. However, he warned that relaxation could lead to the death rate five times higher by January.
In the UK, for instance, the government repeatedly criticized individuals for encouraging them to go back to work, have food, and travel while not implementing an understanding of their activities. Kluge did not critically criticize countries for leaving the lock too soon without adhering to the WHO recommendations and said a balance had to be struggled with.
The WHO Senior Emergency Officer of Europe, Katie Smallwood, urged countries to act fast.
"We have no luxury of time," she said, recognizing that in some countries surveillance and response systems are imperfect. "We must continue to test every case, contact, identify and trace all contacts, even with the swelling of the cases," she said.